Hawaii Environmental & Natural Resources Law

Hawaii Environmental Law - Litigation and Compliance

We help clients navigate the complex web of federal and Hawaii environmental law.  Our attorneys are experienced in advising businesses on compliance with environmental regulatory schemes including NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) and HEPA (Hawaii Environmental Policy Act, HRS chapter 343), CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Recovery, Compensation, and Liability Act) and the HERL (Hawaii Environmental Response Law, HRS chapter 128D), Clean Water Act and Hawaii Water Pollution Law (HRS chapter 342D), and Hawaii water rights.  

In addition to helping clients comply with federal and Hawaii environmental laws, we assist clients obtain relief in environmental matters through litigation and administrative proceedings, including contested cases.  Our lead environmental law partner was recognized by Best Lawyers® as “Lawyer of the Year” for environmental litigation in Hawaii for 2020.  

Our Services in Federal and Hawaii Environmental Law

  • Environmental Review - We advise on compliance with all aspects of NEPA and HERL, including the necessity and sufficiency of environmental assessments (EA) and environmental impact statements (EIS).
  • Hazardous Waste and Brownfields - We review Phase I and II reports and advise on satisfaction of CERCLA and HERL requirements in the cleanup of brownfield properties.
  • Water Pollution - We counsel clients on the NPDES permitting process and advise on compliance with the federal Clean Water Act and HRS chapter 342D.
  • Hawaii Water Rights - We represent clients before the Commission on Water Resources Management in matters concerning instream flow standards and well permits. We also help clients understand their rights and obligations under Hawaii's unique system of water law.

Representative Experience in Hawaii Environmental Law

  • Helped publicly-traded retail company navigate through requirements of NEPA and HEPA in connection with development of new store; Developed strategies to pre-empt legal challenges to project under HEPA
  • Represented major Hawaii landowner in proceedings before the Commission and Water Resource Management in proceedings involving petition to amend interim instream flow standards and applications for water use permits
  • Coordinated due diligence of permitting and other environmental regulatory issues relating to wind farm project
  • Assisted major Kauai landowner in obtaining NPDES permit for irrigation system
  • Obtained favorable settlement on behalf of non-profit group that was sued for non-compliance with EIS requirements in connection with project to eradicate invasive species
  • Successfully obtained dismissal of EIS lawsuit alleging failure to conduct EIS in connection with restoration of East Honolulu's last remaining freshwater spring
  • Represented coalition of transportation providers in lawsuit challenging EIS for public transit project


  • HEPA (Hawaii Environmental Policy Act, HRS chapter 343)
  • NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act)
  • CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Recovery, Compensation, and Liability Act)
  • HERL (Hawaii Environmental Response Law, HRS chapter 128D)
  • CWA (Clean Water Act)
  • Hawaii Water Pollution Law (HRS chapter 342D)
  • Hawaii Water Code (HRS chapter 174C)
  • Hawaii common law on water law (appurtenant rights, correlative rights, etc.) 

Speaking Engagements & Presentations


  • Noa Ching & Michelle Oh, Ala Loop and the Private Right of Action under Hawai’i Constitution Article XI, Section 9: Charting a Path toward a Cohesive Enforcement Scheme, 33 U. Haw. L. Rev. 367 (2010)
  • Michelle Oh, A Self-Executing Article XI, Section 9-–The Door For a Bivens Action for Environmental Rights? 34 U. Haw. L. Rev. 187 (2012)

Practice Areas